Cape Bretoners are continuing to dig their way out of a massive snowfall that hit the region over the weekend, dumping upward of 100 centimetres in some areas.
In the Gritton Avenue area of Sydney, Jabad Ulrehman has been trying to clear out the wet, heavy snow from his driveway, but he wasn’t able to get far since a plow had yet to visit his street as of Tuesday afternoon.
“The city or municipality has forgotten us,” he said. “You can’t even walk here. It seems like their priorities are the main roads, but they have to look after the internal roads and internal arteries.
“We have all kind of been practically barricaded.”
Ulrehman said his family is starting to run out of groceries, but he can walk to a nearby store if need be.
But he worries for those who might not be able to do the same. He gestured at other homes where the snow has piled up against their doors, preventing their occupants from coming out.
“They have no access. I don’t know how they’re going out,” he said. “Maybe there are kids or sick people or elderly people.”
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Neighbours helping neighbours
Some residents are taking matters into their own hands as they await help.
Henry Ogbu spent Tuesday walking around his neighbourhood with a shovel, trying to help wherever he can. He noted that there are many senior citizens in the area who may not be able to make a dent in the tightly packed snow.
“I’m just going around to see if there’s a neighbour who needs help,” he said. “The Cape Breton labourers can’t get access to these places, so I figured they’d need my help.”
Ogbu said despite the challenges posed by the mountains of snow, he’s inspired to see the community coming together.
“I’m happy I see this out here,” he said. “A lot of neighbours are helping neighbours, so that’s a good thing.”
In the neighbourhood of Whitney Pier, Debbie Crane, 61, told The Canadian Press she hasn’t left her home since Friday night, when blowing snow created drifts that blocked both entrances and buried her car.
As of Tuesday, Crane had already missed one kidney dialysis appointment.
“Hopefully sometime (Tuesday) I’ll get out and I’ll be able to go tomorrow,” she said Tuesday, adding that she had called the municipality to ask for help.
Crane said she has had to limit her intake of fluids to reduce the strain on her kidneys as she waits for a ride to the hospital.
“I’ve been chewing gum to keep moisture in my mouth, and I just use a little bit of water to take my medications,” she said. “As the days go on, I’m growing more and more anxious about getting in for dialysis. But I try to keep calm and look on the bright side of things.”
In a statement Tuesday, Cape Breton Regional Municipality said public works plows and crews have been working to clear the way so first responders, such as police, fire, and EHS, can get around more easily.
“As of today, progress is being made to restore these critical services,” the statement said.
“This process is slow, with many immediate response issues diverting resources (i.e. a fire response, a fuel supply or water supply response, or medical emergency requiring urgent, specific home access.)”
Other levels of government are sending resources, and the next priority will be to widen main roadways and making first passes on side roads — which will “take days,” the municipality said.
People should call 911 if there’s an emergency.
Residents who are able are urged to clear their doorways and walkways “because if an emergency response is needed at your home, shovelling to your door would be very time consuming or not possible.”
“If you have successfully cleared your own home access, please consider assisting in your neighbourhood where possible, including clearing fire hydrants near your home,” it said.
Most schools and services in the area will be closed Wednesday as the municipality continues to urge people to stay off the roads.
Solid waste curbside collection and Transit Cape Breton will not be operating Wednesday, and city hall and municipal buildings will remain closed.
“The municipality is requesting that non-essential services remain closed until the roads are again considered safe to travel,” it said.
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